Cigarette may have sparked house fire

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MEEKER — Though no exact cause is known for a fatal house fire June 2, evidence suggests it could have been a burning cigarette.
Deborah Seebaum, 52, died in the early morning fire, which destroyed a two-story rental house at 237 13th St.
“Although the exact cause is not definitive, we have been able to rule out an electrical problem with a high degree of certainty,” noted Lt. Glenn Wilson of the Meeker Police Department in a written statement. “The surviving evidence indicates that a lit cigarette ignited an upholstered chair in the living room.”
Seebaum was the only person in the house at the time of the fire. Her mother, who also lived in the house, was reportedly in the hospital at the time. Investigators quickly ruled out foul play.
“I can tell you at this point there is no indication of foul play,” said Police Chief Bob Hervey in the days immediately following the fire.
Carbon monoxide poisoning, caused by smoke inhalation, was given as the cause of death.
The fire was reported by an off-duty Rio Blanco County sheriff’s deputy, Clay Caldwell, who lived nearby. The call came in at 6:13 a.m.
Both the Meeker Police Department and the company that insured the house conducted separate investigations of the fire, Wilson wrote, and came up with the same conclusion.
The house was a total loss.
“The degree of destruction to the interior of the house was extensive, which eliminated most of the possible evidence,” Wilson noted.